Choosing the Right Tennis Shoes
After your racket, your tennis shoes are the most vital piece of equipment for playing your sport. Choosing a good pair of tennis shoes will allow you to move comfortably and safely across the court, minimise your risk of injury and perform movements - such as slides - that you wouldn't be able to do in other kinds of footwear.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to pick your shoes for tennis.
Why do you need tennis shoes?
Tennis shoes come with several features that are designed to support the specific movements you will make when playing tennis. These include:
- A low profile, which reduces the chance of stumbling as you move around
- Lightweight materials, which facilitate quick changes of direction
- Special kinds of grip, which are suitable for different court surfaces
- Cushioning across the outsole, to reduce the impact of jumps
- An outsole made from especially tough forms of rubber
What to think about when choosing tennis shoes
The best court shoes will provide all the support you need to play tennis in complete comfort. Use the following considerations as a guide when you pick your shoes.
Your playing style
Your playing style is by far the most important consideration when picking tennis shoes. Broadly speaking, there are 3 playing styles, and each playing style benefits from a different kind of shoe.
- Baseline player
If you are a baseline player, you tend to stand a little further back from the baseline and prefer moving side to side and playing powerful shots across the court. This kind of foot movement requires a tennis shoe that is strong and stable - such as the GEL RESOLUTION.
- All-court player
If you are an all-court player, you tend to begin games around the baseline, but like to burst forward to the net, moving back and forth across the court. This kind of play requires a shoe that is extremely lightweight while offering stability in the sole. The SOLUTION SPEED FF tennis shoe provides this combination.
- Best of both
A ‘best of both’ player combines the two playing styles listed above. You tend to play close to the baseline but still rush forward frequently to mix up your play. Famous players, such as Novak Djokovic, encapsulate this style. The COURT FF tennis shoes provide the mix of stability and speed that ‘best of both’ players require.
The surface of the court
Broadly speaking, there are four kinds of tennis court surface: grass, clay, the indoor and hard court (typically some form of tarmac or concrete).
Each of these surfaces requires a slightly different kind of shoe - particularly when it comes to the outsole.
- Grass court tennis shoes: Grass tennis shoes typically have a fairly smooth sole, with small ‘pimple’ style grips that offer traction without damaging the grass.
- Clay court tennis shoes:Clay court tennis shoes come with a herringbone or zig-zag grip which is designed to support you to slide on the surface.
- Hard court tennis shoes:Hard court tennis shoes soles feature a modified herringbone pattern that gives you a good grip while also letting you slide on the court.
- Indoor tennis shoes: To avoid marking, indoor tennis shoes have a completely smooth outsole.
Generally speaking, the best tennis shoes for all-rounders are hard court tennis shoes. You can use the shoes on all kinds of courts, including clay and grass.
How often you play
The frequency at which you play tennis will also affect the kinds of tennis shoes you buy. Generally speaking, if you are just an occasional player it will be fine to wear a more basic tennis shoe with a little cushioning in the soul. On the other hand, if you play tennis more regularly, it is worth investing in the best court shoes in your budget. The shoes will offer maximum grip and will also be much more durable and therefore last longer.
Tennis can be tough on your feet, and this is why the best tennis shoes feature a toe guard which offers extra protection when you drag your feet.
Your tennis shoes should fit very snugly. Since you will be moving in multiple directions, you don't want too much movement inside the shoe as this could cause you to stumble or even twist an ankle. Of course, the shoes should be designed to be wide enough for your feet, but you don't want too much give.
The best court shoes are noticeably higher on the ankle than other regular sports footwear. This is because tennis involves a lot of side-to-side movement. Investing in a pair of tennis shoes with extra ankle support will help reduce your risk of injury.
Tennis matches can easily last over an hour, so your feet will heat up. You, therefore, want to choose footwear that allows your feet to breathe. Check out the materials used on the uppers when you pick your shoes to ensure that they are made of breathable mesh fabric.
Depending on your style of play, you will need to choose between stability or speed in your footwear. If you are the kind of player who prefers to stand at the baseline and take big hits, investing in a pair of slightly heavier, more stable tennis shoes will support your playing style. On the other hand, if you prefer moving rapidly around the court, a pair of lighter shoes will be the optimal choice.
Besides your tennis shoes, you might also want to consider investing in a pair of breathable tennis socks which will give you additional cushioning and comfort when playing a long game. Wearing appropriate tennis clothing will also help you move more freely and comfortably.
Narrow down your search for tennis shoes
There are many kinds of tennis shoes available, so figuring out exactly which ones you need can be a challenge. And that's why we built our tennis shoe finder. It is quick and easy to use and will help narrow down the best court shoes for you.